Protesters march in Moscow ahead of anti-Putin rally

Moscow, May 6 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Several hundred protesters marched through Moscow Sunday to call for the release of people arrested after last year's clashes at a rally against the rule of President Vladimir Putin.

The demonstration came on the eve of what is expected to be a much bigger anti-Putin rally in Moscow Monday, the first this year to be organised by established protest leaders such as Alexei Navalny, who is facing jail over embezzlement charges he says are politically motivated.

Police said some 400 people attended the rally. A RIA Novosti correspondent at the scene said up to 1,000 people were in attendance.

Organisers did not announce an estimate of crowd numbers. There were no arrests reported.

One of the organisers of the rally, Mikhail Anshakov, earlier said the demonstration was designed to allow "working people" the chance to show their support for the almost 30 people detained in the year since the May 6, 2012 protest.

Anti-Putin figures say the clashes between police and protesters at last year's rally were provoked by the authorities to allow them to clamp down on dissent.

The Kremlin's human rights council has also said the police initiated the violence.

Leftist activist Konstantin Lebedev was jailed last month for 2.5 years after admitting to having organised the May 6 "mass unrest" with Left Front head Sergei Udaltsov, Left Front activist Leonid Razvozzhayev and Georgian politician Givi Targamadze.

Investigators say Targamadze funded the unrest as part of a plot to topple Putin.

Udaltsov has been under house arrest since February and Razvozzhayev has been in custody since October. Georgia says it will not extradite Targamadze.

All three men deny the charges, which could see them jailed for up to 10 years each, if found guilty.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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